I’m Thinking of Un-Friending Everyone

We get up in arms — offended almost — at the suggestion of Our Internet being taken away from us. We view corporatization or privitization, tiered or restricted content as an affront to our civil liberties. We must maintain network neutrality. The www is merely a vessel, like a library, something that holds information we might seek or need. Which items you choose to view is completely at your discretion.

So why, then, do we allow Facebook to slap a crazy bias our online experience with such welcoming and open arms? Facebook has essentially taken the back door: now that we’re at the party, FB has come in and made that party a little less free and amorphous. The party is now rigidly structured. Compartmentalized. There’s nothing neutral about it: FB offeres a thinly veiled sense of freedom, but really, we have simply and unwittingly been initiated into a private club.

The FB format tugs on our very heartstrings, having lured us in emotionally, then entrapping us under a pretence of socialization, popularity and approval. If a child’s birthday party needs to be a Facebook event, or an intriguing idea condemned to a one-Like-click then hasn’t it been done already? Haven’t we all, as members of FB, been played?

I imagine stinking rich millionaires, smoking cigars, wearing tailored three-piece suits on their yachts (or whatever the stinking rich stereotypes would do), chuckling with admiration at the level of Evil Genius Mark Zuckerberg has attained: how he made it through the gates, into our hearts, and now we believe in him. Implicitly. Now he preaches to the converted, and we follow. Unquestioning of the fine print. Who has time to sift through repeated updates to the myriad terms of service agreements we face daily?

If the phone rang this moment, and on the other end was a nice lady asking if you had a few minutes to answer some questions you would say: “No,” and press End before either of you had a chance to say good bye. What we don’t realise is that Facebook passively does this: collects personal data. Every move you make, word you say, link you click through, funny picture of a cat, zombie or cat-zombie you approve of: that information is collected. Every friend you have comprises a matrix of data that is being used to “connect” you with products. Or future products. Now we gleefully volunteer the information, we volunteer our level of education, where we live, how old we are, if we are married or single, if we have kids or pets, what books we read, TV shows we watch, games we play: statistical data we can’t find the time to enter in to our own government’s Census forms (I bet you just threw that shit into the garbage anyway).

The level of marketing at the foundation of this operation is multi-tiered and brilliant. Admit it: you guys lapped that “The Social Network” drivel up. Another success: Evil Genius/CEO/guy that JUST WANTS TO BUY HIS OWN FUCKING YACHT has been humanized. But you know what they say: “It takes money to make money.” And I am saddened on a daily basis by how true this is, especially in the Western World, and more heartbreakingly, how it increasingly applies to modern culture (another rant, another time).

“Success” is not about doing your best, it’s about being invested in.

Just remember: you don’t need an online life. It’s just something someone gave us for nothing. Oh, and what’s that other adage? “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

Fundamentally, what I’m getting at is that I encourage you to be a good person. Don’t be evil. Don’t be a dick. It is so vitally important that you live your life in the moment, because let me tell you, the grass doesn’t get any greener on the other side.

I Am Hated for Loving

Song of the day, of the week, of my life. Could be the theme song for The Dears. If a band could have a theme song that was not one of their own songs.

Here’s to having too many feelings, and wanting to share them with you. Heaven forbid.

Galactic Tides

Read a great post this morning from PANK Magazine Blog:

“Galactic tides will end our lives – Taking us down in the moonlight”
The Dears – Galactic Tides

There are some masses, immense and greedy. I try to stay away from them, stay away from their gravitational field. Otherwise, the closer I get, the more I will change; the more parts of me will change.

Sometimes there is destruction. Some tides pull hard enough to rip you apart.

Nobody is Safe: I WILL Go There.

If you haven’t already I strongly recommend you check out my interview with Midnight Poutine. It is an eye-opening take on the modern-day music industry, “indie” culture and other forms of depravity. Let’s talk about it when you’re interviewing me! I accept the challenge. It’s really long so you can put it on your personal MP3 listening device and listen to it on the way home from work.

Midnight Poutine vs. Natalia Yanchak (The Dears) (direct link to MP3)

Also you can watch us on the Late Show with David Letterman this Friday Feb 11th on CBS. We do a rousing rendition of BLOOD with Paul Shaffer + the Late Night Band horn section. Badass.

Year in Preview

Ahhh, first post of 2011. I recently got a “status report” from WordPress about the “health” of my blog. Apparently this blog is very healthy or “WOW” status, to use their terminology. It’s been viewed 28,000 times in 2010, which works out to 2,333.333 times per month, which it pretty awesome considering I only post about 4 times a month.

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Yeah, um, so anyway. Welcome back. I hope to post more, but I’ve been spending more time working on my sci fi ideas, of which I hope to post clips soon. What would you prefer, though: a text post or a free downloadable mp3 of me READING the text? Listen to that shit on your way to work! Or both. Just an idea.

2011 is going to be a busy year: I forsee lots and LOTS of touring, coming to visit everyone we haven’t seen in a while. Love you all, thanks for reading, and for being one of the 77.777 daily visitors!

Musical Mnemonics 4: The Beautiful South

Did I actually like The Beautiful South as a teenager? I think I did, since I was attracted to them enough to swipe my sister’s CD copy of 0898 Beautiful South. I think I really wanted to like them, for whatever reason, but never got into them hardcore. I’d pop on the disc, then think: “I’d rather be listening to World Party,” which is equally harsh for everyone involved.

Up for review today is: “Song for Whoever (Pencil Case Song)”

If there ever was a reason for the meme WTF to be invented, it may be to describe this video. The bottom line, IMHO, is how perfectly early-90’s this is: strangely abstract, totally about nothing. Musically and visually. I mean, culturally we thought we were doing fine, but in reality it was a wash of moral-less culture that had run its course, exhausted all aspects of its identity. Baby blue blazers with pushed up sleeves. ‘Nuff said.

Besides, that jiggling Jell-O mold makes me think of Dr. Demento. At least we had comedy back then.

Then grunge broke. THANK THE LORD FOR GRUNGE. So, I propose that 2011 be the age of neo-Grunge, of something that will rescue us morally from the music that fails to speak to us, lyrically or otherwise.

Pinned Together, Falling Apart

I just read my bandmate’s latest eponymous* instalment of the BENVIE MEMO. In it, he draws comparison between certain moments of The Dears’ No Cities Left to the forthcoming Degeneration Street. He, Benvie, links through to this track from NCL, which I just now finished listening to (you should too, at least before reading on):

Listening to this track was enlightening (revisiting our catalogue is always a stirring reminder of my own history) in that I could recall how our first albums were (and in a way, remain) pretty far out there. I was invogourated by the idea that Degeneration Street is a total return to this: with a twisted message of love, it stomps on the hopes and dreams of the now-commodified vision of indie rock, the vulgar portrait of Dorian Gray today’s music “scenesters” refuse to look at. Yeah, you know who you are.

But I see the change coming. I see the worn-down edges of society. You are ready for something new, for something real, for that thing that reminds you who you are and why you continue.**

* I can use big words too.
** Fuck, I love Morrissey.

Shout out to Mrs. Bartle

Generally I don’t enjoy listening to myself sing or play live. I don’t know what it is, but it reinforces any pre-existing deficit in confidence. Check the version of Crisis 1&2 The Dears recorded for a Daytrotter session. I hope we get to do another one in the future, because that was fun.

At any rate, I noticed a couple moments where my vocal performance was *ahem* not exactly pitch-perfect, when a memory came to me: of my grade school music teacher, Mrs. Bartle, and the hand gestures she would use as a conductor to denote our pitchiness. Like a musical umpire, she would hold her hand close to her chest with a finger pointing upwards if we (the altos, I was forever an alto in choirs) were sharp, and tug on her ear if we were flat. Thinking back to the music program at my elementary school in Toronto, I am super grateful and fortunate to have had such a passionate and knowledgeable teacher. In my fuzzy memory, I recall Mrs. Bartle looking like some combination of own mom (because of their trendy 80’s hair style) and Margaret Thatcher (because of her British-ness) and how Mrs. Bartle, appropriately, took no bullshit. She wasn’t the nice teacher at school, but she kept us in line and as a result, we learned a lot about music before the age of 10.

My daughter started kindergarten this year, and I worry about her school’s lacklustre music program: the meek music teacher, and the fact that the school doesn’t even have a dedicated music room or offer instruments other than recorders. At Howard, we had a second teacher, Mr Tacconia (sp.?), who came in once a week for extra-curricular band class. Thinking back to my school daze, much of my early learning was steeped in music and now, suddenly, I am concerned for my own daughter’s musical education. Perfecting her “rock face” has already been established, we just need to get the music in her.

Or maybe it is there already, intuitively. Music definitely makes learning more fun, and I think it made school more interesting for me. Music and arts are always a school’s lowest priority and the first to go when cuts happen. Let’s not forget to support charities that bring music programs and instruments into schools across Canada. ALSO: mad props to music teachers and school volunteers EVERYWHERE.

Coalition for Music Education in Canada: http://www.weallneedmusic.com/
CARAS’ MusiCounts: http://www.musicounts.ca/

Check me out on the flute! Mr. T rulez! Although, I was very bummed that I got the flute when my first choice was the TRUMPET. Neptune, however, will get but a lame-ass recorder and certainly no flammable polyester blazer. #publiceducationfail